CHICAGO — A man who spent five years in jail for the Mother's Day murders of his daughter and her friend before DNA evidence cleared him filed a lawsuit Thursday against several Illinois law enforcement officers, claiming they used physical and psychological torture to coerce a confession.
Jerry Hobbs, 40, alleges the officers tortured him for 20 hours. They repeatedly punched him, forced him to look at crime scene photos, and turned down his request to talk with a lawyer, the suit says.
Hobbs said officers immediately focused in on him as a suspect.
"Once they got me, they wouldn't let me go," he told reporters Thursday. "They just started with, 'you did it."
Hobbs spent five years in the Lake County Jail after his arrest in the deaths of his 8-year-old daughter, Laura, and 9-year-old Krystal Tobias, who were killed in May 2005 in Zion, Ill.
He was freed from custody this past August after DNA from the crime scene matched another man who once lived in Zion but was in custody in Virginia after being charged in two attacks on women. That man has not yet been charged in the girls' deaths.
Hobbs' suit names individual police officers from Waukegan, Vernon Hills, Zion and Buffalo Grove, as well as the municipalities themselves, Lake County, an officer with the Lake County Sheriff's office and the sheriff.
Officials with the village of Buffalo Grove, and the police departments of Buffalo Grove, Waukegan, Vernon Hills and Zion declined to comment Thursday. Messages left for other municipal officials weren't immediately returned.
Police began interrogating Hobbs shortly after he discovered the girls' brutalized bodies in a park. Both girls had been stabbed multiple times, and Laura Hobbs had been sexually assaulted.
Hobbs has a lengthy history of run-ins with law enforcement for offenses ranging from aggravated assault to marijuana possession in Wichita Falls, Texas, where he currently lives. Hobbs had been out of a Texas prison for less than a month when his daughter was killed.
"I'm no angel," Hobbs told reporters. "I had my roaring 20s just like anybody else."
One of Hobbs' attorneys, Locke Bowman, said his client is seeking "a lot of money."
"(Officers) extracted a confession from Jerry Hobbs and turned him into a heinous villain," Bowman said. "Jerry Hobbs was confronted . when he was at his most vulnerable. He had suffered the worst nightmare that a father could imagine."
Hobbs said he can't ever get back the five years he missed of his surviving children's lives.
"(Police) couldn't ever make up what I lost, what they took from me," he said.